What's Behind Amazon's Kindle App Tweak?

Today Amazon announced that it's improving the code behind its Kindle app for iOS and Android to allow support for graphic novels and children's illustrated comics. The iOS app is also being polished to alow better searches of your library of downloaded titles and to better fit the iPad's screen. The kid's books get a dynamic Kindle Text Pop-Up so that words are easier to read, and comics get a special panel view.

The timing is almost assuredly meant to snatch a bit of limelight in the moments after Apple revealed its powerful new iOS 6 software, destined to challenge every other tablet maker's efforts--including Amazon's (particularly if the long-rumored iPad mini does actually appear on sale later this year). Apple also operates in the e-books space, and has made a big play for more interactive, graphical content in the e-books it publishes in its own electronic bookstore, iBooks.

While the cheap, relatively low-tech Fire is perhaps the hottest tablet to rival Apple's dominance of the market with the iPad, Amazon is rumored to be planning a more powerful 10-inch unit later in the year. That would be a direct competitor for the iPad, which has a 9.7-inch display, and possibly more suited to consuming movies and rich-media books and magazines served up from Amazon's own digital content stable (a direct rival to iTunes). Logic would suggest that Amazon may try a similar trick to the one it tried with the Fire, launching it at a significantly lower price than the iPad's $499 price. Other murmurs suggest that Amazon's bringing its Fire along with its own App Store to Europe, spreading its influence pretty quickly. An update to the original Fire could also be on the cards for later this year, taking advantage of improvements in tech and the growth of Amazon's own app store.

Meanwhile Amazon's been slowly improving the list of services offered to its customers, recently being the first Android tablet to get HBO Go and adding MGM content too. This is a direct rivalry to Apple's expanding iTunes movies and TV offerings, which help empower its iPad and iPad devices--and it's a tiny challenge to the TV and movie deals Apple's said to be pursuing to deliver content to its rumored Apple HDTV. It's also something that Google may have difficulty competing with when it finally launches its own-branded Google Nexus 7-inch tablet soon.

Then there are those persistent rumors that Amazon is pursuing its own smartphone plans too. Any such device would likely use Android in a thickly skinned format to best deliver content from Amazon's content stable, link up intimately with Amazon's own curated Android App Store, and leverage Amazon's extensive cloud infrastructure to make it work quickly and seamlessly. It may be cheap, powerful, and a decent rival to many an otherwise-vanilla Android smartphone and Apple's iconic iPhone.

All the while, that very Amazon cloud service is gaining strength, recently snapping up NASA's business, blowing past 1 trillion files stored, and getting an enterprise-friendly revamp that rivals other cloud players like HP and Oracle, and possibly even Google itself.

Plus, Amazon's applied for 76 new gTLDs (the terminating letters at the end of a web address like .com), sparking speculation about how it's going to use them to promote its services or make them easier to use and find for consumers.

For now, one thing is absolutly clear: The Great Tech War rumbles on.

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